Title: Red Scarf Girl
Author: Ji-li Jiang
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir
Jiang writes in a very straightforward fashion which is more telling than showing. I immediately felt a disconnect and found myself often confused and bored with the progression. Instead of feeling in the middle of the action, I felt on the outskirts and couldn’t seem to push past this. Even though the book picks up pace and gets better after the middle, the disconnect remains.
Nevertheless, Red Scarf Girl gives a good glimpse of life during Mao’s Revolution. It’s a time period that I’ve glossed before in classrooms, but never read further than that. Jiang is a young girl who wants to be the best and wants to stand out in Mao’s revolution. She wants to please the government, but with a dark family secret looming, she has more hurdles than most in proving herself and her loyalty.
The writing is never quite engaging and I think that’s what really turned me from really liking and diving into this book. While the end part is better, it still doesn’t stand up to other memoirs I’ve read, and that’s why I gave it a 3-star rating. Usually I’d rate it lower, but Jiang includes a lot of global themes, such as finding one’s place in the world, dealing with family secrets, and fighting to survive. Those themes really resonated with me as a reader and perhaps this was the one identification that led me to pushing through the book.
If you want to know a personal experience in Mao’s revolution that doesn’t go smooth, you might find this book insightful. Otherwise I would suggest looking elsewhere for a better and clearer picture.